February 3, 2015
There is a need to account for material and economic factors which are completely missing in the discourse surrounding fanatic Islam
In the European imaginary, Christianity is the parent of Reason, and Islam is the embodiment of Unreason. — Talal Asad
Brussels. Ottawa. Sydney. Paris. “Terrorist” attacks in these western cities in the last one year have claimed 29 lives. Add to this the beheadings of western citizens by the Islamic State. The horror evoked by these has led to an outcry against Islam and fierce debates about the necessity of reform in Islam. In France, 3.7 million people marched in solidarity — in the largest public rally since the Second World War — with the victims of Charlie Hebdo to show that western civilisation cannot be defeated by Islamic fanatics.
We are back to the days of 9/11 and other terror events in the West, and the debate assumes familiar directions: freedom of speech versus violent threats to it and the enlightened West versus barbaric Islam. We are presented this black and white world even by non-Muslim and non-western nations who have joined the project of moderating and domesticating Islam. Of course, there have been nuanced positions which have affirmed the right to free speech while at the same time calling out Charlie Hebdo for its racist portrayals of Islam. But the issue is larger than this.
“The tragedy of modernity is that state-sponsored violence sanctioned under the guise of democracy is not classified as terror”